Collection 1980s–Present


Mike Kelley’s Deodorized Central Mass with Satellites



Mike Kelley. Deodorized Central Mass with Satellites. 1991/1999. Plush toys sewn over wood and wire frames with styrofoam packing material, nylon rope, pulleys, steel hardware and hanging plates, fiberglass, car paint, and disinfectant; overall dimensions variable. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Partial gift of Peter M. Brant, courtesy the Brant Foundation, Inc. and gift of The Sidney and Harriet Janis Collection (by exchange), Mary Sisler Bequest (by exchange), Mr. and Mrs. Eli Wallach (by exchange), The Jill and Peter Kraus Endowed Fund for Contemporary Acquisitions, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz, Mimi Haas, Ninah and Michael Lynne, and Maja Oeri and Hans Bodenmann
  • MoMA, Floor 2, 207 The David Geffen Wing

In 1987 Mike Kelley began to make sculptures from stuffed animals, which he described as “the adult’s perfect model of a child”: cute, clean, sexless. However, Kelley’s plush toys, purchased secondhand from thrift stores and yard sales, were discarded and soiled from use. Seemingly beyond redemption, they are darkly humorous monuments to lost innocence and repressed trauma.

Deodorized Central Mass with Satellites was among Kelley’s last works to feature stuffed animals. The toys are clustered in a cellular arrangement of one “central mass” and 13 “satellites.” To avoid eliciting an emotional or sentimental response from viewers, Kelley sewed the animals face-in. They are surrounded by 10 brightly colored, abstract sculptures the artist called “deodorizers,” which release a pine-scented mist into the air. By contrasting the degraded consequences of consumer excess with the slick, reductive forms of modernism, Kelley taunts the hierarchies between high art and mainstream culture, between obsessive hygiene and moral decline.

Organized by Paulina Pobocha, Associate Curator, Department of Painting and Sculpture, with Abby Hermosilla, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Curatorial Affairs, and Gee Wesley, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Media and Performance.

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